Week 20 of Your Pregnancy
Perhaps for the first time in months, you feel upbeat, healthy and even sexy! Indeed, many Singaporean mums find the second trimester a lot easier than the first. As your baby’s cognitive and muscular functions continue to develop, here are some tips to help keep your iron levels in check.
Mama mia! You're halfway through your pregnancy! If you are carrying a girl, she will be developing a uterus, and her ovaries will contain some primitive eggs. If it’s a boy, his testes will start developing1.
Though the production of new nerve cells will come to a slow, more complex connections would start to form. In fact, your baby’s nervous and muscular systems will be so developed that he or she would get to enjoy a satisfying strrrrretch3!
The lanugo hair has spread all over your baby's body, which makes it look like a little puppy. However, it will shed completely when you reach the 8th month of your pregnancy. At week 20, it's the size of a mango. Its heartbeat is now strong and can be detected easily.
Back pain may occur at week 20. Pay attention to your posture and walk upright. Supporting straps can be worn to relieve your back aches. Your bust size will continue increasing significantly.. If daddy is lucky, he may be able to hear the baby’s heartbeat when he puts his ears on your tummy.
Whether you’re pregnant or not, most women need 14.8mg of iron a day8. Iron is needed in order for your blood cells to carry oxygen around your body4 and to your baby. Iron also contributes to your baby’s normal cognitive function5. This explains why your doctor is obsessed with checking if you have anaemia, a condition caused by iron deficiency6!
Have your friends commented that you look unusually pale? If your doctor says you have low haemoglobin levels, you are not alone. However, you will need iron supplements if your levels are very, very low7.
Adding Iron to Your Diet
Here are some tips on helping your body absorb more iron: Take Vitamin C and iron at the same time! Vitamin C is known to improve iron uptake, so top your spinach salad with kiwi slices, or drink a glass of orange juice with iron-fortified whole-grain cereal!
Calcium, on the other hand, inhibits your body’s ability to absorb iron, as well as certain compounds found in tea and coffee9. Try drinking a glass of fruit juice or eating a piece of fruit with high vitamin C content with or after iron-rich meals9.
- Here are some iron-rich foods you can add to your diet:
- Well-cooked lean meat, and oily fish
- Dark green vegetables, including broccoli, watercress, spinach and kale
- Nuts, especially cashew nuts
- Pulses, chickpeas, beans and lentils
- Wholegrains, including wholemeal bread, and iron-fortified breakfast cereals
- Dried fruits, such as apricots, prunes and raisins
1. Murkoff H, Mazel S. What to Expect When You’re Expecting. 4th ed. London: Simon & Schuster Ltd, 2009.
2. NHS UK. Ultrascans in pregnancy [Online]. 2013. Available at: www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/ultrasound-anomaly-baby-scans-pregnant.aspx [Accessed July 2014]
3. Deans A. Your New Pregnancy Bible, The experts’ guide to pregnancy and early parenthood. 4th ed. London: Carroll & Brown Publishers Limited, 2013.
4. European Union. Commission Regulation (EU) No 432/2012 of 16 May 2012 establishing a list of permitted health claims made on foods, other than those referring to the reduction of disease risk and to children’s development and health OJ L 136 2012;1-40.
5. European Union. Commission Regulation (EU) No 957/2010 of 22 October 2010 on the authorisation and refusal of authorisation of certain health claims made on foods and referring to the reduction of disease risk and to children’s development and health. OJ L 279 2010;13-7.
6. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. Antenatal Care CG62. London: National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, 2008.
7. NHS UK. Vitamins and nutrition in pregnancy [Online]. 2013. Available at: www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/vitamins-minerals-supplements-pregnant.aspx [Accessed July 2014]
8. Department of Health. Report on Health and Social Subjects 41. Dietary Reference Values for Food Energy and Nutrients for the United Kingdom. TSO: London, 1991.
9. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. Iron and iron deficiency [Online]. 2011. Available at: www.cdc.gov/nutrition/everyone/basics/vitamins/iron.html [Accessed June 2014]
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